Category Archives: Activities

Posts about book/literature related craft, games and activities

Top Activity Books for Children

Like many parents, I am always looking for fresh ideas for my boredom-busting toolkit – interesting and meaningful activities, preferably requiring minimal supervision. I’ve really needed them during the current school holidays, and they’ll be helpful as we spend more time indoors during the cooler months. Anything to stave off moans about Being Bored, or battles about too much screentime! These terrific activity books fit the bill – they offer lots of open-ended ideas that encourage kids to play, think, reflect and create.

Usborne Design Activity Book by Alice James, Tom Mumbray and Petra Baan

Usborne has been publishing excellent children’s activity books for years – you may remember books about spycraft / origami / cooking from your own childhood. This Design Activity Book is another great example, and should offer plenty of fun and inspiration to kids who love art and visual design. Project ideas range from the more traditional, such as hand lettering, and designing logos and book covers, to more complex ones such as developing a board game, developing a website, and applying branding to a collection of items. Each idea is supported by lots of prompts and useful tips that draw upon the different steps of the design process. For ages 8+.

Chill Out: My Mindfulness Activity Book by Josephine Dellow

This activity book is not only fun and inspirational, but being based on mindfulness, can also help to support young people’s wellbeing in the longer term. Chill Out offers a good range of activities, puzzles, games and crafts, created with and for 5 – 8-year-olds; each activity encourages children to focus in on a task, settle the mind, and help to create a peaceful moment in their day. Chill Out is published by Ups!de Down Books, an independent publisher specialising in positive, age-appropriate and accessible titles around mental health and wellbeing. For ages 5-8.

Ninja Life Hacks Journal for Kids by Mary Nhin

This journal is a companion volume to the Ninja Life Hacks series, which are bite-sized, colourful books that aim to help children develop life skills. It covers topics such as managing emotions, developing resilience and learning respectful interactions.  The Ninja Life Hacks Journal turns these messages into goal-setting exercises that nurture a growth mindset: how to look past failures and learn from mistakes, practise positive self-talk and ultimately, develop grit and resilience.  Not only is it a useful workbook, it can become a great keepsake.  For ages 3-11.

101 Things for Kids to do Screen-Free by Dawn Isaac

Are you constantly trying to limit your kids’ screen time? Screen time is a big issue in so many families – especially during holidays –  so Dawn Isaac’s new book caught my eye right away. Dawn’s previous books on Outdoor activities and Rainy Day activities are both terrific resources, and this is no exception. The 101 Things described in this book range from the creative (no-sew sock creatures), to the silly (hands-free eating challenge) to the impressive (backyard mini golf).  There are crafts, recipes, outdoor challenges, games, and projects; most require few or commonly-found materials; some can be done on your own, while others are great for groups.  For ages 4-11.

The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play by Laura Brand

Laura Brand may not be well-known outside the UK – yet – but her great ideas around engaging with nature, creative crafting and the importance of play, deserve a wide audience. The Joy Journal offers fifty simple, engaging and open-ended play ideas that will appeal to a range of ages, including toddlers under supervision. Most of the projects are no-cost or low-cost, and use common household items, or scavenged natural materials such as flowers, leaves and twigs. Laura champions messy play, but offers helpful tips and “messiness ratings” for parents who may be more hesitant. The beautiful photograps and friendly chatty text means the book is a pleasure for the parent-reader as well! For ages 2+.

Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers by Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere, Engineer is a firm favourite with both kids and adults, for its fun introduction to the engineering process, and its stereotype-busting story.  Now you can further nurture the inventiveness of your budding engineer with a Rosie Revere project book. With full-colour illustrations, Rosie Revere encourages readers to design and prototype solutions to everyday problems using commonplace items, and to learn from, rather than be discouraged by, failures and flops. The 40+ featured projects include designing a better bicycle, build a simple catapult, construct a solar oven, and more.  For ages 5+.

Ted Talk Wednesday: Life Lessons Through Tinkering

We have an inspiring Ted Talk for you today. Gever Tulley uses engaging photos and footage to demonstrate the valuable lessons kids learn at his Tinkering School. When given tools, materials and guidance, these young imaginations run wild and creative problem-solving takes over to build unique boats, bridges and even a roller coaster! It’s a short, but great talk.

Download of the day: Sweet Paul’s family dancing dolls

It’s the last DOTD for the month and we hope you’ve had fun making, baking and listening to something each day. Today’s final activity is making dancing dolls of family and friends.


Visiting the art galleries and museums around the world from the comfort of your sofa

While we are all staying safe at home, the art world has gone into a bit if a spiral. Museums and galleries have been closed to the public and these spaces which are so reliant on people visiting them to admire and learn from their vast collections have had to reinvent themselves. Many galleries have thankfully turned to the digital space and offer a range of tours and experiences that you can enjoy from the safety of your home. We’ve had a look around and they are amazing. Sit back and enjoy a tour of some of our most favourite galleries and museums along with books that accompany the artists on show. 

From the National Gallery of Victoria 

KAWS by Monica Ramirez-Montagut

Mónica Ramírez-Montagut is a curator at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and has compiled the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s body of work in this amazing book. This book is a vibrant look at the celebrated artist and designer KAWS. KAWS is a multidisciplinary artist who was first known for his work as a graffiti artist and his subversive approach to popular imagery on bus shelter and phone booth advertisements. It is an amazing book with stunning photography and storytelling. 

You can visit the NGV and take part in virtual exhibitions here

From the TATE Modern

Keith Haring by Darren Pih

Keith Haring is widely recognised for his colourful paintings, drawings, sculptures and murals. Haring exploded onto the early 1980s New York art scene with his vivid graffiti-inspired drawings, many of which found exposure in the public realm, such as the Times Square billboard broadcast of his famous Radiant Child in 1982. Haring’s instantly recognisable `cartoon-like’ imagery not only drew on the iconography of contemporary pop and club culture but also looked back to the patterns and rhythms of Islamic and Japanese art, and primitive wall-paintings. Furthermore his work also reflected a profound commitment to social justice and activism, and raised numerous issues that remain relevant today, including the AIDS crisis, the Cold War and fear of nuclear attack, racism, the excesses of capitalism and environmental degradation. Featuring around fifty works supported by rarely seen photography, film and archival documents from the Keith Haring Foundation, this accessible book will not only introduce Haring to a new audience but also throw fresh light on an artist whose work remains symptomatic of the subcultural and creative energy of 1980s New York. The publication also aims to include select and unpublished reminiscences from those who collaborated and interacted with Haring, including performers such as Madonna and Grace Jones and artists Jenny Holzer and Yoko Ono.

You can visit the TATE Modern and look closer at their online displays here

From MOMA

The Artist Project by Phaidon

The Artist Project is the latest step among The Met’s recent strides to better integrate contemporary art into its historical pantheon. Artists have long been stimulated and motivated by the work of those who came before them, sometimes, centuries before them. Interviews with 120 international contemporary artists discussing works from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection that spark their imagination shed new light on art-making, museums, and the creative process. Images of the artworks appear alongside images of the contemporary artists’ work, allowing readers to discover a rich web of visual connections that spans cultures and millennia.

MOMA Now by Quentin Bajac

MoMA Highlights celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Museum MoMA with a chronological overview of some of the most significant modern and contemporary artworks through superb high-resolution images and short texts by MoMA curators. MoMA Highlights interweaves works from each of the Museum’s curatorial departments, painting and sculpture, drawings, prints and illustrated books, photography, architecture and design, film, and media and performance art to provide a look at one of the premiere art collections in the world.

You can visit MOMA and take part in their virtual exhibitions and free art classes here

From the Guggenheim in Bilbao

Mark Rothko Toward Clarity by Sabine Haag

Mark Rothko has long been considered a preeminent figure in 20th-century art, and few publications have examined his work within the broader context of Western art, even though Rothko himself continuously sought it out as inspiration. Rothko had a profound interest in history and art history including Greek and Roman mythology, Egyptian fables, Byzantine and early Italian gold-ground paintings, and masterworks of the Renaissance and Dutch Golden Age. He first traveled to Europe in 1950, starting in Paris and winding through Venice, Arezzo, Siena, Florence, and Rome; along the way, he admired frescoes by Fra Angelico and architecture by Michelangelo. This beautiful book examines the influence of the artist’s travels on his oeuvre. It presents Rothko’s engagement with important classical and Old Master works, highlighting older techniques and ideas that the artist may have sought to emulate. Works representative of Rothko’s entire corpus are beautifully illustrated with full-page colour plates. The book also contains writings by the artist selected for publication by his son that document his appreciation of art history in his own words.

You can visit the Guggenheim and their online Guggenheim at Large activities here

and for all art lovers…

The Art Museum by Phaidon (2018)

This book is one of the finest art collections ever assembled, offering the museum experience without the boundaries of space and time, taking readers on a tour around the world and through the ages, presenting the finest examples of visual creativity. Its rooms and galleries display some 1,600 artworks, selected from the original collection, including paintings, sculpture, photographs, textiles, installations, performances, videos, prints, ceramics, manuscripts, metalwork, and jewel-work. It’s a book to be treasured.

Enjoy and stay safe!